Redland City Council is urging the State Government to start planning for the reopening of North Stradbroke Island as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
Mayor Karen Williams called a Redland City Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) meeting this week to discuss a potential staged approach to reopening the island safely.
“Following this week’s meeting we have written to the State Government to request a phased plan to reopen the island in line with State and Federal health advice,” Cr Williams said.
“We know the island is hurting financially, but we also know there are vulnerable people on the island, so we have asked for a phased process that provides plenty of notice for residents, businesses and tourists.
“We aren’t asking them to open the floodgates right now, we are asking for a clear plan that recognises it will take time to return the island to normal.
“Ferry companies have reduced the number of vessels and their staff have taken leave, so they have told us they need two weeks’ notice to return their services to normal.
“Our request to the State Government makes it clear that the island cannot just be turned back on at a moment’s notice, we need some lead time and planning.”
Cr Williams said the LDMG’s recommendation was for a two staged process that allowed landowners with holiday homes to access the island first, followed by day-trippers and tourists, provided it was safe to do so.
“This all has to be done right and it has to be based on the most recent health advice,” Cr Williams said.
“Having a phased plan that gives everyone plenty of notice will provide the community, businesses and tourists with the confidence they need and deserve.
“It will also give local businesses a light at the end of the tunnel, allowing them to resource staff and products so they can do what they do best – serve the community.”
Division 2 Councillor Peter Mitchell said the fact that such a request was possible was down to the cooperation of the community in following health advice.
“In the main, people have been very understanding and cooperative, which means we can start to look at recovery planning,” Cr Mitchell said.
“While this is an important and positive step in the right direction, we aren’t there yet and the next step is for a detailed plan that reopens the island safely.”